Firefox 2.0 beta coming this week

Mozilla says it will release the first beta version of Firefox 2.0 this week.

The first beta version of the Firefox 2.0 browser could be released as soon as Tuesday, according to a note posted to Mozilla's Web site.

This much-anticipated release will be made no later than the end of this week, and no sooner than Tuesday, according to developer meeting minutes posted late last week.

Developers have been playing with an earlier alpha release of the browser since late March, but this new beta release is expected to be tested by a much larger group of users. It also marks a further step toward the final release of what is being billed as a major update to the browser.

A possible version of the beta, called a release candidate, has already been posted. That software can be downloaded here.

The new version of the free browser is expected to include an "undo close tab" feature that lets users recover after they've accidentally shut a tab window. A spell checker designed to work with Web forms is also in the works.

The update comes as Firefox is gaining share on Microsoft Corp's Internet Explorer.

Firefox is now used by nearly 13 percent of Web surfers, according to Web analytics firm OneStat.com. That number is up 1.14 percent from May. In the U.S., Firefox has nearly 16 percent market share, but it is most popular in Germany, where it is used for nearly 40 percent of Web visits.

Internet Explorer remains the dominant browser, however, with nearly 86 percent market share worldwide, according to OneStat.com.

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